CBG vs. CBD: Key Differences

Written by Green Shoppers
Updated on November 13, 2019

CBD is all the rage. This cannabinoid appears almost everywhere now – in health food shops and online. It was once a niche food supplement, but now pretty much everyone has at least heard of CBD.

As the CBD industry continues to grow, there are more and more products to choose from. Some of these products claim to contain a vast array of different cannabinoids; these are called full-spectrum products. In case you didn’t know, cannabinoids are the active compounds found in cannabis.

The most well-known cannabinoids are CBD and THC, but it doesn’t stop there. Some estimates put the number of cannabinoids over one hundred! Little is known about many of these compounds, partly because they are made in such small amounts. Others are starting to find their way into the spotlight.

CBD companies have been advertising their use of CBG (cannabigerol) lately. So, what is this cannabinoid and what does it do? Is it better than CBD? That’s what we’re investigating today.

Phytocannabinoids and How They Work

Cannabinoids are active compounds from the cannabis plant, found in both hemp and marijuana. Some experts believe that cannabinoids exist to help the plant to survive, for example, to protect the plant from harmful UV.

THC has one of the most obvious roles. When a herbivorous animal comes along and munches on a wild cannabis plant, the THC will cause a disorientating and dizzying high. Suffering from nausea and vertigo, the animal will know never to eat cannabis again!

But why exactly does this happen? How does the THC create these effects?

All mammals are equipped with an endocannabinoid system (ECS), a network of receptors found throughout the body. These cannabinoid receptors are found pretty much everywhere. In the body, they work with signalling compounds called endocannabinoids, which are created whenever we need them. The endocannabinoids bind to specific cannabinoid receptors, triggering various effects depending on the particular reaction.

Endocannabinoids, which the body creates, are contrasted from phytocannabinoids, which plants create. Although the ECS is designed to work with endocannabinoids such as anandamide, phytocannabinoids can also bind to cannabinoid receptors.

In the case of THC, it binds to CB1 receptors in the brain and central nervous system and overstimulates them. This process is what triggers the ‘high.’ While animals may hate it, it appears that humans have learnt to love the intoxicating effects of THC!

Other phytocannabinoids can also work with the ECS in unique ways. Not all reactions are unpleasant or intoxicating. Two of these cannabinoids are CBD and CBG, which we will discuss in more detail below.

Cannabidiol: What You Need to Know

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one of the two main cannabinoids, alongside THC. However, it is quite different from its intoxicating counterpart. Although the two cannabinoids have a very similar molecular structure, CBD is non-intoxicating and works in a completely different way.

When you take CBD, it stimulates the body to make more endocannabinoids. These endocannabinoids then bind with their corresponding cannabinoid receptors to cause effects throughout the body. The ECS is thought to be vital in maintaining general health and wellbeing by keeping the body in a state of homeostasis. It keeps the body in balance. For this reason, CBD is considered to be a healthy daily supplement.

Through the numerous interactions it can cause in the ECS, CBD might be able to support general health. Many people are now taking a small dose of cannabidiol each day in order to achieve such effects. There are also studies in progress that suggest that CBD could have some more specific therapeutic benefits. For now, we are awaiting scientific confirmation.

Nevertheless, authorities like the World Health Organisation (WHO) have declared CBD safe, well-tolerated, and non-addictive. In other words, all kinds of people can take CBD without having to worry about side effects. Although a small number of users may feel dizzy or tired after taking CBD, none of the side effects are serious.

The combination of potential health benefits and few side effects has propelled CBD to fame. You will find CBD products in several locations now, including pharmacies and high street chains. You can also order it online.

While most users tend to use an oral CBD tincture or capsule, some methods of taking it verge on the weird and wonderful. You can get CBD vapes, bath bombs, gummy bears, massage oils, teas, lattes, and even beer. The possibilities are endless!

CBD’s popularity makes it seem as though nothing can stop it. So where does CBG come into all this?

Cannabigerol: The Basics

Cannabigerol, or CBG, is an incredibly important cannabinoid. In the cannabis plant, all cannabinoids start out as acidic compounds. In the case of CBG, this acid is called cannabigerolic acid, or CBGA.

CBGA is the precursor to all other cannabinoids. It is the first cannabinoid that the plant produces, and it later evolves into all the other acids, such as CBDA and THCA. When the plant is harvested and heat is applied, these acids all develop into their respective cannabinoids – CBGA becomes CBG.

At the moment, scientists don’t know all that much about what CBG can do. There is a reasonably small body of research when compared to other phytocannabinoids like THC and CBD.

What we do know is that CBG, like CBD, isn’t psychotropic. It won’t cause a high. Without intoxicating effects, perhaps users could utilise CBG alongside their CBD supplements. But what can it actually do?

What You Can Do with CBG

Right now, very little is known about CBD. A few scientific studies have been done, but these were largely animal studies and there is not enough evidence to definitively say what CBG is capable of.

Up to now, here is what we know:

  • Appetite Increase: In 2016 and 2017, two studies were carried out at the University of Reading. Both found that CBG increased appetite in rats. The researchers also noted that CBG was well-tolerated and did not cause adverse reactions.
  • Glaucoma: In many American states where medicinal cannabis is legal, glaucoma appears on the list of qualifying conditions. A 1990 study, conducted in West Virginia, investigated using both THC and CBG to reduce intraocular eye pressure. Both were found to have a positive effect.
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBS): An Italian university carried out a study in 2013 which found that CBG had positive effects on IBS in rats. This is likely similar to the way in which CBD may reduce inflammation.
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases: It’s difficult to say what role cannabinoids could play in fighting neurodegenerative diseases, but there are some claims out there. In 2015, a Spanish university released findings which showed CBG acted as a neuroprotectant against Huntington’s disease in mice.
  • Anti-Tumoural: Numerous studies have been conducted on animals with cancerous tumours which have involved CBG. In 2006, Italian researchers showed that it benefited mice with human breast cancers. Again in 2014, a huge interdepartmental study found that CBG helped mice with colon cancer.

The above studies seem to be great news. However, you have to take everything you read with a pinch of salt. It’s hard to say whether this has any positive effects for humans, as all studies thus far have been conducted on animal models. Hopefully, time will reveal more information to us about CBG and its capabilities.

Final Thoughts: CBG vs. CBD

It appears that both CBD and CBG could have some benefits for humans. CBD is currently more widely accepted and reported on, but it is probably not the only cannabinoid we should be looking into.

CBG could have a few different uses in the medical industry. Right now, we need to await more scientific studies before anything changes.

If you want to take CBG, it’s likely that there is a small amount in full-spectrum products. However, since CBG is only made in such small quantities in cannabis, there will only be a little. As manufacturers catch onto the idea that users want to try cannabigerol, they might find ways to increase its usage.